Former World Bank President To Speak at CMC Commencement

Former World Bank president Sir James Wolfensohn will be the 2011 Claremont McKenna College (CMC) commencement speaker. The college announced the decision March 21. The commencement, CMC’s 64th, will take place on Saturday, May 14, at Pritzlaff Field.

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Wolfensohn was chosen by members of the CMC administration, who consulted with various college officials.

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“We do not have a formal process by which we choose a graduation speaker,” CMC president Pamela Gann wrote in an e-mail. “We consult with the senior class president and with members of our Board of Trustees and the director of_x000D_
our Athenaeum to develop a list of potential commencement speakers. The final approval comes from the CMC Board of Trustees.”

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CMC senior class president Cara Daley CM ’11 agreed. “Student involvement [in the selection process] is minimal,” she said. “I had meetings with CMC’s Dean of the Faculty, Gregory Hess, throughout the year to throw around ideas and see where he was in the search, but ultimately [students] had very little say.”

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Requests for comment from Hess were referred to Gann and the Public Affairs department.

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According to Gann, Wolfensohn was chosen largely because of his work in the public, private and non-profit sectors, as most CMC graduates will work in at least two of these sectors at some point in their lives.

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“Sir James Wolfensohn was chosen because he exemplifies the leadership opportunities and activities that we hope for our students,” Gann wrote. “He has had exceptional leadership opportunities in the private sector (financial services), the public sector (President of the World Bank for ten years), and the non-profit sector (he has served on many non-profit boards, including the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Carnegie Hall in New York City, the_x000D_
Rockefeller Foundation, Rockefeller University, and many, many more).”

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“He believes that it is important to lead across all these sectors, thus providing examples for the aspiration of students to be leaders,” she added.

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According to Gann, Wolfensohn’s experiences as a leader in business are relevant to many CMC students.

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“CMC’s mission is to educate young men and women through the liberal arts to be responsible leaders in business, the professions, and public affairs,” she wrote. “We aspire to give all our students the opportunity to develop the skill sets and mental abilities to be exceptional leaders in the private, public, and non-profit sectors.”

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Despite their lack of involvement in the selection process, some students expressed excitement for the choice and said they are looking forward to the speech.

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“[Sir Wolfensohn] seems like a Renaissance man, with significant contributions socially as well as in his professional career,” Shanna Hoversten CM ’11 said.

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The CMC faculty and Board of Trustees approved an honorary doctorate of laws to be presented to Wolfensohn, who has an illustrious career in global finance. He is currently chairman of the investment firm Wolfensohn & Company, and he served as president of the World Bank from 1995 to 2005. In his native Australia, Sir Wolfensohn was a member of the Olympic fencing team as well as the Royal Australian Air Force. He has also received an Honorary Knighthood from the Order of the British Empire.

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Sir Wolfensohn earned a B.A. and LL.B. from the University of Sydney and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.

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